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Commercial Night Requirements

Asked by: 1440 views Commercial Pilot, FAA Regulations

I will brief the scenario (and my current knowledge / interpretation of the matter) as concisely as possible. First, the following background: (1) I am a Private Pilot and want to ultimately become a CFI. (2) Due to a color deficiency, my Third Class medical has the following restriction: NOT VALID FOR NIGHT FLYING OR BY COLOR SIGNAL CONTROL. (3) Assume for the time being, I DO NOT want to bother taking a battery of alternate tests (of which I am already aware) to lift my night flying restriction, AND THAT I AM HAPPY BEING A DAY-TIME ONLY CFI using my Third Class medical. (4) I have all the requirements met for the Commercial, with the exception of the 10 take-offs and 10 landings at a controlled field AT NIGHT. So here's the question. According to 61.129 (a)(4)(ii) it states that I must either do the night solo, OR "performing the duties of pilot in command in a single engine airplane with an authorized instructor on board." Now for the further clarification of the 'grey area' I fall into given the above. Legally, if I am RATED for an airplane, single-engine land (in this case, lets say a Cessna 172), I am, as a Private Pilot, NOT required to even have a current medical in order to LOG PIC time so long as another appropriately rated, current and medically qualified pilot agrees to ACT AS PIC (insert all references to appropriate regulations, which I already looked up and verified). Technically, according to my restriction, I DO NOT have a medical when it comes to flying at night. HERE'S THE QUESTION AND MY INTERPRETATION: As a Private Pilot restricted on my medical from NIGHT FLYING (I can only assume this means when LEGALLY ACTING AS THE PIC), for the purposes of working toward a higher certificate or rating, this DOES NOT restrict me from LOGGING PIC AT NIGHT if I am NOT ACTING AS the PIC. Very important distinction there. Now "performing the duties of PIC with an authorized instructor on board" does not seem to imply that I am ACTING AS THE PIC of the aircraft for purposes of completing the requirements toward that higher certificate. Instead, I take this to mean (and I know this was originally written for 'insurance' reasons, I already read that circular, but again we're in a grey area here) that I may LOG PIC TIME at night, but that my authorized instructor is ultimately ACTING AS THE PIC, and nowhere can I find that I cannot LOG PIC if my medical restricts me from NIGHT FLYING. I can LOG all the PIC time I want, but just can NEVER LEGALLY ACT AS THE PIC. The night flying restriction one can only assume means when I am ACTING AS PIC, not logging PIC toward a certificate or rating. IN SUM: Can you clarify that "performing the duties of PIC" does NOT mean that I am LEGALLY ACTING AS THE PIC of that flight, as that seems to be the entire purpose for the re-write in the first place? Thoughts?

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1 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    John D Collins on May 23, 2015


    You are not qualified to act as PIC, but you may log PIC under the provisions of 61.51(e)(i) because you are the sole manipulator of the controls for an aircraft for which you are rated in category and class. You do not need a medical if there is another pilot acting as PIC. You may satisfy the requirements of 61.129 (a)(4)(ii) as long as there is an authorized instructor on board who is acting as PIC. You would want to make sure that you logged the flight appropriately to indicate that you were performing the duties of PIC while the instructor was acting as PIC.

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